Pre-escalate may sound like you are starting the fight, but you are not! You have to assume the threat is there and it is imminent and it is real. Then you must act pre-emptively. Cops are not taught to wait until they are shot to shoot back and you should not wait until you are physically attacked before you strike back, it could be too late. Never fight over words, a challenge, anger, an insult. Waiting to get hit before you strike back could get you killed. Trust your intuition, gut feeling, then rely on your instincts and training .... but don't let anyone take your lunch money.